A homeless person spent a few nights camping in a city parking lot in October, which becomes a greater concern as winter arrives. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

A homeless person spent a few nights camping in a city parking lot in October, which becomes a greater concern as winter arrives. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

EDITORIAL: Let’s help out where we can

Winter is a rough time of year for the homeless

As winter begins to set in many of us are grateful to have a roof over our heads, a place to cook meals, shower and relax with our families, pets or solitude even.

While it is the norm to have a home it is still something not everyone takes for granted.

In 2020 it is estimated there are 150 million people homeless worldwide.

Back in 2016, Habitat for Humanity stated as many as 1.6 billion people around the world lived in inadequate shelter.

Right here in Williams Lake we have a housing shortage — both affordable housing and modest housing.

Many people couch surf, but some people are homeless.

The Cariboo Friendship Society has teamed up with BC Housing to expand its emergency shelter to the Longhouse with the addition of 20 new beds so that physical distancing can be maintained in the regular shelter and at the Longhouse.

Read more: Longhouse temporary emergency shelter almost ready for occupants

Additionally, an Emergency Housing Action Team comprised of members from various agencies, has been working with the city to address the need to assign a place for people to stay who have been banned from the shelter or choose not to stay there because of various substance or mental health issues, or if they are a couple and want to be together.

Many of us heard the helicopter circling overhead Tuesday in the city and later learned it was the RCMP searching for Randolph Quilt, 59, who was last seen on Sept. 26 and reported missing by his family on Nov. 29.

A second search is planned for Quilt, who was known to sleep outside and sometimes at the shelter, this coming weekend on Saturday and Sunday with efforts focusing on South Lakeside, around Walmart, Dog Creek Road and Highway 20 between Williams Lake to the Sheep Creek Bridge.

We need to step up as a community to help with the search and moving forward care more about the most vulnerable in our midst.

Did you know people have been sleeping under the bridge where Highway 20 meets Mackenzie Avenue? Did you know the Salvation Army emergency response truck that goes out on Saturday nights is handing out sleeping bags non-stop and sometimes feeding more than 50 people?

While a designated tent camp proposal was rejected by city council, perhaps another solution will be found as council is committed to working toward something long-term.

In the meantime, let’s be more vigilant. Take a walk through Boitanio Park with a friend and say ‘hello’ to people who may hanging out there.

Keep your eyes open in case you see something is amiss that may help find Randolph or anyone else that goes missing in the future.

Read more: Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in nations, RCMP search for missing man in Williams Lake


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– Williams Lake Tribune

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